Does it matter what school a student attends?

Last night we had a wonderful first recruiting session for the 2011-2012 school year! Woo-hoo!  We had a nice turnout from prospective parents as well as current parent ambassadors and teachers.  It was our first opportunity to tell the good news about all the exciting things going on in our school.  The primary focus was on Kindergarten and we were proud to be able to premiere two exciting new items:

Thanks to the hard work of our Admissions & Marketing Director, Talie Zaifert, we debuted a brand new video of a “A Day in the Life of Kindergarten”.

We also debuted the first of what will be a nine-part rollout of complete benchmarks & standards for each grade in our school.  Our teachers have been hard at work and the first one, Kindergarten, is now available!

Martin J. Gottlieb Day School Kindergarten Benchmarks & Standards

The rest will be ready to hit enrollment packets in the next few weeks.  We are pleased to be able to begin to live up to the high bar that has been raised for us – we consider this under the category, “Promises Made; Promises Kept”.  Hopefully, it will be the first of many.

During my spiel last night, I found myself repeating something that I say often to parents during recruiting events: that the research indicates that the most important factor in determining a child’s future academic success isn’t the school, but the fit between the child and the school.  That’s why it is so important for parents to really get the feel of the different schools they are considering for their child(ren).  I say this year after year, and I wholeheartedly believe it is true.  I also believe it is one of my more convincing talking points which resonates with parents.  Of course it would be useful if it was in fact empirically true as well!

Well, it just so happens that as I was going through some old files, I found a paper that I wrote in 2003 while finishing my doctoral coursework entitled “Does it matter which school a student attends?”  Who knew?  (Apparently not me!)  At the time, I was taking advantage of the consortium between the Jewish Theological Seminary and Teachers College and took a class in the “Sociology of Education”.  This is long before I ever considered working in Jewish Day School!

I wonder if it somehow stuck in my head all these years (as things tend to do in this head of mine), but it is nice to know that there is some actual research to back up what I’ve been telling parents all these years.  I would never inflict an old academic paper on anyone (I cannot find the grade, but I suppose it was least passing!), but if you would like to see for yourself the proof behind the anecdote (or just some light reading to help you fall asleep), by all means enjoy!

Does it matter which school a student attends?

In the meanwhile, we are excited to think about all the wonderful new faces we are meeting and will be meeting as parents go about their due diligence to discover which is the right school for their child(ren).  We are always honored to be included in the search and we are confident that for many children, we will be that right choice.  We are confident that no one will know your child better than us and no one will be better able to ensure that there truly will be a floor, but no ceiling for your child.

Author: Jon Mitzmacher

Dr. Jon Mitzmacher is the Head of the Ottawa Jewish Community School. He was most recently the VP of Innovation for Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools.  He is the former Executive Director of the Schechter Day School Network.  He is also the former head of the Martin J. Gottlieb Day School, a K-8 Solomon Schechter, located in Jacksonville, FL, and part of the Jacksonville Jewish Center.  He was the founding head of the Solomon Schechter Day School of Las Vegas.  Jon has worked in all aspects of Jewish Education from camping to congregations and everything in between.

2 thoughts on “Does it matter what school a student attends?”

  1. Again, Steven and I thank you for seriously addressing the important questions that we as parents have deeply thought about and debated with each other, friends and family members! “Does it matter what school a child attends?” is a huge one! When we left London and moved to Jacksonville, friends questioned our decision not only because of the obvious differences between the two cities, but also the educational ones. From what we observed when we initially visited Jacksonville, we felt that the Martin J Gottlieb Day School would be an ideal fit for our three young daughters and thankfully have been proven correct. They truly LOVE their school and talk about how their children will also attend MJGDS. Our girls also love learning which is a combination of what they learn at school and what is encouraged and reinforced at home. I do feel strongly that parents should be realistic about what they expect from a school and be aware that ultimately they as parents are the most important teachers and role models for their children. As we approach the Thanksgiving Holiday, it is an appropriate time to express heartfelt appreciation for the wonderful teachers, staff and administration at MJGDS; we are extremely grateful for your efforts to create a safe, nurturing, stimulating, inspiring learning environment for our children!
    Wishing you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving!
    Andrea & Steven Mail

  2. Ps I have printed out a copy of your research paper on the above blog topic and look forward to reading and reflecting upon it over the holiday weekend. I find it hilarious that you had forgotten about it!

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